Michael Cohen Opens up About President Trump to ABC News After Prison Sentence: 'Don't Believe What He Is Saying'

After Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and other charges, the lawyer sat down with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and told everyone listening to not believe what the president says.

Cohen pleaded guilty to nine felony counts, including lying to Congress last month, tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution and several campaign finance violations. Earlier this week, he was sentenced to three years in prison. He will also have to pay $1.39 million in restitution, $500,000 in forfeiture for the financial and campaign finance crimes and a $50,000 fine for lying to Congress.

On Friday morning, ABC News aired Stephanopoulos' interview with Cohen, in which he claimed Trump personally directed him to pay Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump, before the 2016 presidential election.

"I knew what I was doing was wrong," Cohen told ABC News. "I stood up before the world [Wednesday] and I accepted the responsibility for my actions."

Cohen said "of course" the purpose of the payments was to "help" Trump's campaign. He said he was "angry at himself" over the payments, which he made out of "blind loyalty" to Trump.

"I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty," Cohen said.

After Cohen was sentenced, Trump claimed what Cohen told prosecutors was a lie.

"I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called 'advice of counsel,' and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance," Trump tweeted.

The president accused Cohen of trying to "embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence," which Cohen disputed.

"It is absolutely not true. Under no circumstances do I want to embarrass the president. He knows the truth. I know the truth," Cohen said.

In another tweet, the president suggested Cohen took the deals because his "family was temporarily let off the hook."

"Inaccurate," Cohen said of that message. "He knows the truth, I know the truth, others know the truth, and here is the truth: The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying. The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds."

Since Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller accused Cohen of lying to Congress, Stephanopoulos asked him why anyone should believe him now.

"Because the special counsel stated emphatically that the information that I gave to them is credible and helpful," Cohen said. "There's a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth."

Cohen also said he does not believe President Trump is telling the truth when it comes to the Russia investigation and thinks Trump is a different person than the man he sued to work for.

"I think the pressure of the job is much more than what he thought it was going to be," Cohen told Stephanopoulos. "It's not like the Trump organization where he would bark out orders and people would blindly follow what he wanted done. There's a system here, he doesn't understand the system, and it's sad because the country has never been more divisive. And one of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I've received, as well as the cooperation that I have given, I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together."


Cohen said he is willing to continue cooperating with the special counsel and other investigations, but he did not answer specific questions about them "out of respect for the process."

Photo credit: ABC News / Good Morning America